Donald Trump is “hiding” his tax returns, according to Texas Senator and GOP presidential candidate, Ted Cruz. In an interview with CBS News’ Face the Nation, Cruz joined the chorus of those demanding that Donald Trump disclose his tax returns before the primary campaign is over. Donald Trump has recently been pressed on when he intends to release his tax return information. So far, he’s refused, citing the fact that he is currently being audited. In comments reported by the Wall Street Journal, Donald Trump claims to have been under IRS audit for the past decade. An IRS official, when asked to comment on this, said that while he was unable to talk about any individual case, a decade of successive or continuous audits would be “highly unusual.”
Trump’s riff-like manner of speech seems to be causing some crossed wires on this issue. According to CNN and the Journal, Trump says he has been under audit for a decade, but Ted Cruz claims that Trump first claimed to be under audit for two, three, and then five years in quick succession. The simple solution is that Donald Trump declared all of those time frames across a series of appearances. What was consistent was Trump’s insistence that his lawyers would never “allow” him to release his tax returns while talks with the IRS were ongoing.
Regardless of how many years the real estate mogul claims to have been under audit, it is generally thought that the release of his tax return information will prove damaging in some way to the Trump campaign. There has been speculation that disclosure of his tax returns might expose him as having inflated his net worth. Most business analysts do assess Donald Trump as a billionaire, but very few are willing to go along with Trump’s self assessment of a net worth of $10 billion. It is thought by some that release of tax information would burst this bubble. Trump himself seems to be aware of this as well, declaring on Twitter that tax returns have nothing to do with net worth, seemingly as a way to prepare the world for some quite low income figures.
Another possible concern could very well be Donald Trump’s tax arrangements. There is good reason to suspect that Trump’s tax avoidance strategies may be revealed as highly aggressive. Mitt Romney, whose presidential campaign was in part derailed by the release of his own tax information, has been quoted by Cruz and others as saying that there might be a potential “bombshell” in the billionaire’s tax information. Romney himself came under strong and damaging criticism after it was revealed that he had managed his own personal tax rate to less than 14 percent. It would seem that Romney’s experience has led him to expect a similar outcome for Donald Trump.
Regardless of what the returns actually say, Donald Trump has good reason to delay the release of his tax returns as long as possible. It is generally acknowledged that as soon as the information is released, what we will see will be an intensive, “crowdsourced” audit, as Trump’s detractors on both sides of politics go through his financials with a fine-tooth comb looking for irregularities. It’s unclear, however, whether even a tax scandal will be capable of denting the seemingly invincible Trump. Donald Trump’s continued popularity has left many analysts baffled, as the real estate mogul has survived more scandals and exposures in the campaign so far than most politicians do in a lifetime.
All this aside, Ted Cruz has said that if there is a scandal hiding in Trump’s tax returns, the voters deserve to know before the presidential campaign proper begins. His comments come after some disappointing primary performances after a strong start in Iowa.
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